This piece has been written by Amanda and I think it is an important message. COAisathing has always been about giving COA’s a space to say and express exactly what they think and feel without judgement or a need to fall in line with what ‘society’ thinks. This piece encompasses that sentiment and is powerful, extremely brave and I am thankful to the author for sharing with such honesty.
If you feel like you need support as a child of n alcoholic then Nacoa are always there to help and support. If you wish to share and be heard as someone impacted by a parents drinking then please get in touch.
“There’s no love like a mother’s love.”
It’s true. Nobody ever showed me the kind of “love” my mother did.
My mother and I never had a good relationship to begin with. She was stifling and full of distrust for reasons I couldn’t understand. I didn’t do anything bad. I was a typical good kid, “a pleasure to have in the class”.
I had to constantly be in sight of the kitchen window when I went out to play. “She’s just overprotective.” I wasn’t allowed to spend time with friends outside of school. “She’s just worried.” I wasn’t allowed to be angry that she had read more than a hundred of my incoming and outgoing text messages behind my back. “She’s just checking up on you.”
The reasons I was given did not satisfy me. It seemed that I never did enough to earn her trust. I began to lie. Sometimes I went to after school clubs as scheduled, and sometimes I spent an hour at my friend’s house instead. When she found out, I was in the “last chance saloon”. “What did I do wrong to bring you up like this?” It sounded like my entire life before that moment consisted of me somehow using up the other chances that came before last. I didn’t know what they had been or how I had spent them.
Throughout my teenage years, I would be called constantly and asked if I was sat on the street doing drugs or drinking. I just wanted to go window shopping with my friends or sit in their house and watch TV. If I turned my phone off, she would call the police.
I was a selfish bitch, a liar, a drug addict, and an alcoholic at 14, apparently. She constantly belittled me, guilt tripped me, conveyed how disappointed she was in me, all while telling me she loved me.
It wasn’t until I had just started college at 16 that she left. She didn’t return home from work one night. It seemed odd, but perhaps she was staying at somebody’s house for the night. She didn’t return the next night either. Before I knew it, this became the norm. I still don’t have the words to describe how very puzzled I was that nobody was talking or doing anything about it. I would get “she’ll come back soon” whenever I tried to talk to my family about it. Nobody seemed to share my bewilderment, my demand for answers. Whenever I tried to convey my anger, I was told not to talk like that. “It’s your mum.”
The next time I saw her was at my first college parents’ evening. She was incredibly drunk. I couldn’t bring myself to look my tutor’s way as my mother slurred her way through sentences and swayed in her seat.
I was so embarrassed.
We learn from our families how to participate in society at large, and I thought a bottle of wine a night was normal. It was the following day, when my tutor sat me down and asked me what was going on, that I realised my mother was probably an alcoholic.
Eventually, my step-dad left and I moved in with my father. It was only when we were both gone that my mother moved back in. The situation at my father’s place was stressful for his partner, so they made me return home soon after.
I spent the next year in my bedroom.
My mother stayed in hers with a man I didn’t know, and the rest of the place was used by other people I didn’t know. My home was no longer my own and was filled with strangers and stunk of alcohol and weed and people’s body odour. They even brought a huge dog that scared my cat senseless and forced her to stay in my room with me, constantly on edge.
Some days my mother would come into my room to shout at me, on others she would force tearful hugs on me. She used whatever sick leave money she got from work on alcohol and guilt tripped me whenever I would ask her to buy food.
On some days, I didn’t eat dinner. On most days, I had a couple of chocolate bars.
Nobody helped during this time, and I still struggle to forgive them. My father’s partner had already dismissed the situation as bearable enough for me to live there despite the conditions that made them insist I stay with them remaining the same. My family never visited but only phoned and it would often end tearfully. I wasn’t to upset her, she was having a bad time, but nobody really asked how my time was going. Of course, my friends didn’t know.
How was I supposed to tell them what was going on when I myself had little idea?
A painful year went by and we spent Christmas of 2008 with my grandad. He made us Christmas dinner and had even bought gravy from KFC because he knew I liked it better (it was good at the time, I promise). We all sat in the living room together and watched a Harry Potter film after dinner. It should’ve been a nice memory. She didn’t really eat food much any more, so she spent the duration of the film throwing up, and we all just sat silently together and stared at the TV accompanied by the sounds of retching. He drove us home in silence and I got out of the car with the heavy heart of someone who knew then that truly nobody was going to help.
Some days afterwards, the man who lived with us knocked on my door and told me he’d called an ambulance for her. I didn’t see or talk to her during these final days, so I wasn’t aware of how quickly she had deteriorated. She was yellow and I knew then that she would die. I remember seeing the pictures of George Best plastered on the front page of the newspapers when he was dying and I knew this was the same.
I am glad that she is dead and I truly believe it was one of the best things to ever happen to me.
I struggled with forgiveness for a long time. I felt like I had to forgive. I heard that forgiveness was freeing, feels great, and makes you a better person. Life is lesser if you can not forgive. I read books about it, listened to people talk about it, I even went to different kinds of workshops and performed rituals. I never did work out how to forgive my family or her, but I think that’s okay. I don’t actively feel anger towards her any more and in fact, I don’t think about her a lot at all. Is this forgiveness, or just the passing of time? I still don’t know.
Family are who you choose them to be.
It is incredibly freeing and relieving to be able to tell this story here and know that somewhere, someone believes me and even understands me. Thank you for reading.